The Night I Cried Uncle

Last night I reached the end of my rope.

I tried to test out the embroidery portion to see if the tension was ok there. It wasn’t. Nothing I did worked. I tried 4 different hoopings to see if I could get it to work. Tried three different threads. Played with the tension. Nope. It either shredded the thread, nested underneath, or the tension was so off you couldn’t see ANY of the bobbin thread on the bottom of the project.

For those of you that don’t do machine embroidery I’ll try to explain what’s happening in the photo captions.

Viking Topaz 20 Tension Problems

Tried the snowflake design three different times.

Viking Topaz 20 Tension Problems

This is the top of the first snowflake I tried to stitch out. This one went so wrong I had to cut the project out of the bobbin case because it kept stitching even as a huge nest was building underneath inside the bobbin case. That was fun.

Viking Topaz 20 Tension Problems

Here’s the bottom of that project – no bobbin thread and the top thread is all wonky. A lot of this got cut out when it got stuck.

Viking Topaz 20 Tension Problems

Second attempt. The top of this snowflake looks ok right? But notice how the thread seems a little loose? Take a look at the underside…..

Viking Topaz 20 Tension Problems

This is the mess that awaits you. Absolutely no top thread tension and this is making sure the thread is in the tension discs before stitching.

Viking Topaz 20 Tension Problems

This was the third attempt and it looks ok on the top right? There are a few places where the thread broke or shredded torwards the end when it was stitching out the inner yellow portion. It didn’t sound right while I was stitching.

Viking Topaz 20 Tension Problems

Well you can see here that there isn’t any bobbin thread to be seen. A properly tensioned machine will show mostly bobbin thread on the underside of the project, you shouldn’t see much color on the bottom.

Viking Topaz 20 Tension Problems

You can see a little bit of the bobbin thread in the center and on the running stitch that is inside the satin stitch outline but that’s it. That complete red and yellow area is NOT supposed to be happening.

I pulled off the embroidery arm and tried just regular sewing with it since that was working previously. Well, it’s not working any longer. Tension problems while sewing too and I couldn’t get it to work even adjusting the tension.

So my machine is definitely going back to the dealer on Saturday and I’m going to tell them to keep it until it is working properly. I’m going to have to re-think several Christmas gifts this year.

After this happened I tried to make a flying geese unit using a new method and when I went to iron my piece I had the wrong side of the fabric for the big part. I turned off everything and stopped sewing for the night at that point.


  1. Lauretta6 says:

    Hang in there. We all know that place where you are.

  2. That stinks! I am sorry you are having so much trouble. Hopefully someone at the shop can fix your machine this time.

  3. It happens to me too, don’t worry! Remember my blog post about a block I had to un-stitch 3x before it was done? And it was only HST-s… Hope today and the rest of the week will be kinder to you!

  4. I bought a simple sSnger machine from the Viking dealer in a Joann’s a couple of years ago when my machine needed some extensive repair and I needed “something” while I waited. The machine was fine for a bit but when it started to mess up, service was non-existent. You are right about them staffing with only one person. And that person would MUCH rather spend their time on a potential customer (commission, no doubt) than caring for an established customer. That Singer is still not fixed, collecting dust in my sewing room, because I got frustrated trying to get someone to talk to me. I guess that means THEY won. I hope your situation gets resolved in such a way that you can fall in love with your machine again. And in December! Worst month ever, particularly if you enjoy making gifts for people.

    • I was really looking forward to doing several in-the-hoop projects as gifts this year. Now I don’t think I’m going to have time before Christmas break from work.

      That’s so sad to hear about your Singer and your Viking dealer. Each time I hear someone talk about the issues they’ve had it makes my heart sink because I’m losing hope this can ever be fixed.

  5. Take a deep breath, walk away from the machine, turn around and shoot it. On anther email list I heard a lot of horror stories about machines bought from Joann’s. I do hope you get it fixed before Christmas.

  6. Kick butt and take names! Hold hostages (not serious) if you have to, to get the machine FIXED. At this point, I’m sorry but I’d be nailing somebody to the wall. I’d be advising these folks that I would make it my mission in life to make DARN sure that they would not be selling machines on the weekends. I would be there to confront any potential customer and tell them to find another dealer/brand for a sewing machine. Viking service = NON-EXISTENT!
    I’d be telling the dealer’s repairman that I want my money BACK for a NON-repair job that he charged me money for on my last “so called” repair.
    It would be like Leon Propane Gas Company telling me I had NOT paid my bill when I used their envelope to mail the payment. The bill was returned to ME because the gas company had the wrong address printed on their DARN envelope. How stupid can you be NOT knowing you business address? I took that envelope to them un-opened to show them I had paid the bill. I demanded PAYMENT for the stamp that was wasted. They didn’t want to refund my stamp money but I didn’t leave until I got it. They got their payment. THEN I told them to come get their propane tank out of my yard. I went around the corner and got propane gas from another dealer. I’ve been happy ever since then…no more drama with the gas company! Your dad was as mad as me but I was the one the dealer had to face!

  7. Katie, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re dealing with this. Only thing I can suggest is letting the dealer know you’re a podcaster/blogger and the position you held with the local Quilt Guild. And how you’re letting everyone know of your unhappiness. Would contacting Viking be any good? Last word: I sure wish I had your Mom’s help when I was fighting with my car insurance company!!!!

  8. Karen In NC says:

    Hi Katie,
    Sorry you are having to deal with this. In your podcast you mentioned wanting a Pfaff. Did you know that Singer, Viking and Pfaff are now owned by the same holding company? (SVP) Just like most Brothers and Babylocks are made by the same company. You will find “twins” in each brand that are very similar. There is a lot of information on this over on on the Sewing Machine discussion board.

    There has also been lots of discussion over there about the Viking tension issue and takeup lever. Even I (who does not have a Viking) knew about it. I can’t believe the Viking dealer employee had no knowledge of it. It has been a frequent problem since the early Sapphires. It is so frustrating when the employees are not up on their machines. I went to a dealer this past weekend and the lady could not answer even the basic of questions. She even said “you know more about these machines than I do”. I was shocked. They carry 1 brand of machines so it is not like they had tons of new models. In fact the machine I was asking about has been out for 2 years.

    • I bet she knows – she just doesn’t want to admit that Viking has issues with their product and customer service.

  9. This definitely is a problem with the upper thread tension (or lack of it)!!! If you’ve had some shredding previously, you may have some fibers or threads stuck in the tension discs that are preventing the thread from seating in them. An old, but useful idea is to “floss” your thread path by using a couple of feet of unwaxed dental floss…Thread machine as usual, stopping short of the needle, with presser foot lifted, and gently pull the floss thru the path toward the needle. If you lay a 3×5 card or some paper on the machine bed in this area, you’ll be able to see what if anything falls out. Do the flossing 3-4 times. Always thread with your presser foot lifted, then drop it and give your embroidery thread a bit of a gentle pull to see if your tension discs are engaging’ll be able to tell very quickly if this helps.
    While your in the problem solving mode, remove the bobbin cover, and everything you can in the bobbin area to check for any stray threads, shreds, and lint. Turn the wheel by hand to observe the stitch cycle and anything that may be riding around behind or beneath your bobbin case.
    If you’ve done all this as well as changed needles, threads, and nothing changes, it is time to visit the dealer. Hope this helps a bit….I know the frustration first hand!!!

  10. shelly grappe says:

    Kiddo, NEVER buy a machine from one of the little mini stores they put in Joann’s or Hancocks. The people working at these sewing machine stalls are clueless. Always go to a sewing machine store that has a reputation to keep up. Course it is a little late for this machine. I would go in and demand it be sent back to the company to be fixed. I had the same trouble with a 4000.00 Janome. It would not do a good satin stitch after 10 times taking it back to the quilt shop. I then demanded she send it back to the company. It was fixed after that and 10 years later is still sewing and embroidering beautifully. I sold this machine to a friend and it is still trouble free. I feel so badly for you.
    Please consider going to a sewing machine store to buy your next machine. I would also consider buying one from a Quilt Shop if they were large and had a good variety of machines and a tech on site and knew what they were selling. Man “this sucks” as my 20 something kids would say. I hope you can reach a happy conclusion and get this machine out of your life and get a new one. I highly endorse Bernina and Janome. I would look at the used Bernina 640 and 440 and 730s. These have all been replaced by newer models and the prices new and used on these machines has gone way down. I have both a 440 and 730E and I highly recommend both machines. I just got a Janome 8900 because of the larger harp area. My Berninas only have a 6.5 harp space. Also both Bernina and Janome are offering great deals on the new models with 4 years interest free financing. I did this to get the 8900, which goes against my money managing but I can do the 85.00 a month for 4 years easily even though I am a retired teacher. Kiddo if I could I would buy you a dream machine, your podcasting gives me much pleasure. I am alone most of the time and I feel like I am listening to a friend as I sew. Keep your chin up, I pray it all comes to a happy conclusion. Please take this old ladies advice and buy from a store front and not a big box store with a clueless sales girl. Maybe someone will take your pricy boat anchor in as a trade in. Keep us informed we care!

  11. Karen DePalma says:

    I hope today is better. I’ve had issues with a machine before too. I put it in time out (moving it to the corner on the floor in my sewing room) and that made me feel a bit better. Sometime WIPs go there too. I hope your issues get fixed soon!


  1. […] largest embroidery area possible.  I have a Pfaff Creative 2.0 (previously owned a Topaz 20 but had issues with it).  It is a combo embroidery/sewing machine. Bernina, Pfaff, Janome and Babylock also make combo […]

  2. […] 3, 2012 – Tension problems get worse. After I got home they got even worse than before. I called the manager and told her I’d be […]